The first patent for snowmobiles with rear tracks and front skis was issued in 1916. In 1960 Bombardier company invented the modern snow mobile it called the “Ski-doo” with its open-cockpit and one or two person form. In 1970 to 1973 Bombardier sold 2 million machines, a peak not yet exceeded by any manufacturer.
Since that time , the average snowmobile carries two passengers, travels on dual skis upfront and a single track in the back and ways from 400 to 600 pounds. They are powered by two or four stroke engines from 80 to 160 hp and cost from $8000-$13,000 or more.
Now a small California company called Sierra Snow has designed and built a new kind of powered snow bike called the PSV (Personal Snow Vehicle) Snow Runner. The experience is like writing an off road motorbike, a jet ski and snowboard says the company’s developer Jim Wade. PSV Snow Runners are smaller, more maneuverable, run cleaner, and cost less than traditional snowmobiles.
Sierra Snow’s engineers have borrowed ideas from motorcycles, racing karts, mountain bikes, and snowboards and snowmobiles, all of which Wade grew up having fun with.
Wade has designed Snow Runner to be lightweight, high powered but small enough to fit inside an SUV, minivan or pickup truck bed. The chassis is similar to racing karts and motorcycles and is strong and rigid. All age groups and abilities can use the Snow Runner because it’s easy, stable and safe and comes in a range of sizes. Finally, it is less expensive than full-sized snowmobiles.
Snow runners can drive through powdered snow over 3 feet deep, and engines have five or six speed manual transmissions just like motorcycles. The drive track turns in a 10 inch wide radius which is similar to snowmobiles. The long drive track is studded with paddles that push Snow Runner through the snow and take full advantage of its 30 hp. The frame is built from TIG-welded tungsten-inert-gas 4130 tubular steel a design feature used on go karts.
The latest Snow Runner, the SR-125, has a 125-cc two-stroke engine fueled by a gas-oil mix that provides 30 hp and costs from $6,850-$8,550 depending on battery choice. The next versions will be cleaner burning four stroke engines making them more environmentally friendly and the first electric version of the Snow Runner has just be offered for sale.